MPesa scams to be wary of
Let’s admit it, no financial service rivals or comes even close to Mpesa in Kenya. The service is now so integrated into our lives that coming to think of life without it is almost impossible. How in the World would you be able to send money from Kisii to someone in Malindi in a matter of seconds? How could you pay for your Kenya Power electricity bill in the comfort of your office or home? The list is just endless to how convenient the service is. However, for some con artists, the service has also become an alternative source of revenues. The tactics some of them use are so well planned that you won’t even notice what hit you till it’s too late. Despite measures taken by Safaricom to curb these culprits, we can’t say it’s all safe out there, that’s why this blog post is bringing some well known con scams that you can shield yourself from…if you feel there, is some info you want to share with others, feel free to comment on this post… ( Read More on How Safaricom Mpesa Agency Business Operates Here)
Con Scam 1:
I think this is probably the most common one. As a Safaricom user,you have at least received an SMS (text) to your inbox confirming that you have received some cash from another MPesa User with all the details of a genuine Mpesa Confirmation message e.g.
“BM30CF817 Confirmed. You have received Ksh.3000 from CHARLES JOHNDOE 254722123456 on 6/7/2011 at 1.22 PM New MPESA balance is Ksh16245.00”
For those familiar with the system, the above confirmation SMS contains all the details of a genuine transaction with Transaction code, amount received ,name of sender, sender phone number, time and date of transaction and your new MPesa balance. The problem with this text is that the message is sent from an individual’s phone number, not from Safaricom. You can see this on the sender details. All messages from MPesa are shown as such on your sender number/name. Another way to pick this scam is that your account balance is never accurate. All incoming e-values to your account are usually added to your account balance to give you an accurate aggregate, the cons just do guesswork.
Once you receive the fake text the sender will call you within minutes. He will ‘kindly’ ask you to send the money back to his number and will often cite reasons like the money was for school fees or medical bills. That’s usually the bait. If you really didn’t ascertain the origin of the message, you will go to your MPesa menu and send money to the caller. Good thing though…if you didn’t have your money to refund the requested amount in your MPesa account the transaction will fail…..Bad Thing…if you had money in your account, the transaction will be successful as you will send “YOUR OWN MONEY” .Some are real cool talkers, they might even be generous and tell you that since you agreed to refund the amount, you can have a cut of the figure. If they request you to refund Ksh 3,000 and you agree, they tell you can have 500 for your kind heart and send only 2500.
One sure way of knowing the genuineness of such a transaction is to check the origin of the text and your M-Pesa account balance. All messages sent from Safaricom will show as MPESA in the sender number/name, but if it shows an individual phone number, be suspicious!
This one plays on your human traits like sympathy. Someone approaches you and tells that he/she doesn’t have a phone or hasn’t registered as an Mpesa user. The person is usually a kid, sick-looking or someone you can sympathize with. He requests if he can use your registered Mpesa number to receive money from someone else. Out of sympathy, you agree. Now the catch….you will get a genuine Mpesa message on your phone with an accurate account balance. You can choose to withdraw the money via an agent and give it to the person or if you had some cash in your wallet, you can choose to leave the amount in your phone. The con part…the person who sent the money to you so that you can give out to the other person calls Safaricom customer care and informs them that he sent money to an unintended number i.e. “your number” and wants the money reversed back to his MPesa Account. Normally, once Safaricom receives such a call they will check your account and reverse it normally to some sort of reserve account for 72 hours. But one thing for sure money will be out of your account. As a formality, Safaricom will call you to ascertain the details of that transaction and believe me proving that you had an informal arrangement will be difficult.
To beat this scam, it’s simple. Simply avoid allowing someone you don’t know to transact using your M-Pesa Number .As for unregistered numbers, MPesa allows for money to be sent to unregistered numbers only that it costs slightly more than the standard transaction charges, advice the person as such. Doing so will save you a lot. If you feel suspicious about anything you can call the MPesa Customer Care on 234.
M-Pesa keeps growing everyday and as other systems integrate into it, the more we will see these scams. Check out the next article on M-Pesa security tips.